'Build a fire and generate enough heat' - Amanda Geitner on drawing attention to East Anglian art

Amanda Geitner, director of East Anglian Art Fund, with Eve by Bridget Heriz, one of the exhibits in

Open Call with Amanda Geitner, director of East Anglian Art Fund, pictured here with Eve by Bridget Heriz, one of the exhibits in the Open Art Show in Norwich Castle 'Inheritance'. - Credit: Denise Bradley

Each week I speak to a Norwich local making an impact on the arts in our city. This week, director of the East Anglian Art Fund, Amanda Geitner.

1. How would you best describe your role within the arts community?

I am the Director of the East Anglia Art Fund (EAAF), a charity of over 650 members who support exhibitions and arts education in Norfolk and Suffolk (join us!).

We have been funding exhibitions for 30 years, with particular support to the programme at Norwich Castle.

It is wonderful if you are lucky enough to visit galleries far afield but our aim is to make sure that great art happens right here where we live.

Somewhere Unexpected: Norwich Castle Open Art Show, supported by the East Anglia Art Fund, is on sho

Open Call with Amanda Geitner, director of East Anglian Art Fund. Somewhere Unexpected: Norwich Castle Open Art Show, supported by the East Anglia Art Fund. - Credit: Kate Wolstenholme

2. What is it about the Norwich art scene which you love so much?

The people, the work they make and the spaces they find to show it in.

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I love that we train artists at NUA and that so many of them stay in the region and make exciting things happen.

I grew up in Perth, Western Australia and so am used to living on the edge – I know that if you build a fire and generate enough heat, people will gather towards it. That’s what happens in Norwich. 

Amanda Geitner.

Open Call with Amanda Geitner, director of East Anglian Art Fund. - Credit: Amanda Geitner

3. How did you get to where you are in your career?

I studied Art History and English at the University of Western Australia and began working at the University Gallery there.

That first role as an Assistant Curator led to an exchange which brought me to the Mead Gallery, University of Warwick, in the mid-90s. From there, I came to be the curator at the Sainsbury Centre in 1998. I thought that I would give it two years and be back in Australia for the 2000 Olympics - that didn’t happen.

I love the Sainsbury Centre and was there for 17 years, leaving in 2015 for my current role at EAAF.

4. What advice would you give to aspiring creatives?

I don’t want to sound flippant when I say ‘do what you love’ – I know we all have to earn and live. Norwich is a very supportive environment with some great employers in the Arts, so I have faith that if you stay and do what you do well, you can make a
career of it here.

5. What does an average weekday look like for you?

Weekdays often blur in to weekends. A recent highlight was an afternoon at Norwich Castle, hearing artists in the exhibition Somewhere Unexpected talk about their work.

6. What is your favourite spot in Norwich?

City Centre? Lunch from the market with my family. Life in the suburbs? Running on Marston Marsh with my dog.

7. Can you name one East Anglian creative whose work you admire?

There are so many, but I would have to call out Dr Veronica Sekules of Groundwork Gallery, Kings Lynn. For many years, we worked together at the Sainsbury Centre and she was a brilliant mentor and constant inspiration to me.

At Groundwork Gallery she brings her skill as a curator and her passion for bringing people together to make exhibitions addressing art and the environment.

For me, her work strikes right to the heart of what’s important now.

8. What’s the best exhibition you have been to in East Anglia recently?

Tony Cragg at Houghton Hall. Works of great beauty by one of the most important living sculptors. A real joy.